Prada Moment - Day 15
I guess I have to begin at birth. I am not one to remember pain but then again maybe nobody at birth knew how to identify pain. Somehow it got stored in some miscellaneous data base until it could be identified and archived.
Surely females, when then give birth, feel the pain their mothers felt when they gave birth. Not to say females understand what the infant feels. Of course, infants for the most part cry being thrown out of warm liquid comfort zone and forced to change environments on a survive or die scale.
Perhaps for an infant, ignorance is a blessing. That absolute no going back, you’re here, live with it, do or die, birth moment is best forgotten and left uncategorized and uncompared to any other.
Still I have wondered through the years, that maybe that Yung thing in psychology is the first two years of your life in data collecting still rumbling around uncatalogued or not capable of being catalogued later in life. It is lost data. It was useful data as is, at the moment, in the moment kind of way. It was perhaps also strung together in memory, in hours or daily loops of learned behavior communication, which did not make it to the final eye opening totally present, that each of us marks our backward history by.
In a way it is not like riding a bike now in the present. It is, the past, all that compressed, forgotten attempts to ride the bike fully. To put together desire, passion, balance and perfect flight marks a multiple intersection of data rather than any one or few strings of data or memory.
Who, on the moon in a space suit and walking around a whole new environment remembers the first few days of flight training as a cadet?
I started this subject with birth and I guess I have to in this outer waiting room to the afterlife have to reconcile the mother thing. Life begins with mom. Our earliest habits, tastes and behaviors mimic the person we first saw after birth and the one we clung to both before and after that birth.
With mom, it is difficult to reconcile the thing. I am looking back. I am using adult prejudice and adult preferences in dealing with, dissecting and commented on past memory data.
In a way there always was a distance between myself and my mother.
I begin to see her face in silhouette.
The scene is a seemingly rare moment when she acted out of the normal. In fact I have probably played this scene over in my mind through the years and seem to know all the facts underlying that scene now.
I am four years old. We are walking to a nearby playground. In my mind I have always known it was gray blustery March. The impressive tall Schlichter clock tower over the old Schlichter rope factory dominates its surroundings as it has done since before the Civil War. In fact, this building had supplied a very large percentage of the rope and rigging that ran the U.S. Navy in their blockade of the South during that war.
The playground is quiet, empty on a school day. Seeding will be done in another month or two to replace the grass on one baseball diamond on the space. Years later my research would reveal that this playground for factory workers’ children, had at one time been a black chimney belching mill just like Schlichter’s
The cyclone fence surrounding the playground is rusting just like the batting cage surrounding home plate of the baseball diamond.
One sole small building housing the boys and girls bathrooms and the groundskeeper’s office and supply closet sat sadly on the lot. Nearby were two sliding boards, one small and the other large for bigger bids. So too were a set of swings, one junior and one senior.
One “Jack and Jill” with stairs, platform, monkey bars and broad slide, with its gazebo like roof over the platform completed this working class recreation scene in Harrowgate, Philadelphia.
Next to the playground as a boundary marker and artificial wall was the elevated embankment of a factory feeder train track, the Trenton Avenue line. The embankment was beyond more rusting cyclone fence and the large chunks of gravel on the embankment seemed to carry the black accent of coal dust and train soot of over half a century.
Into this cheerless, colorless, world, comes my mother with a four year old boy and a one and half year old sister, trying to do something different in her life. Perhaps her day trip was some kind of out of the box of a row house life experience, that house only some three or four blocks over.
Was this trip into the cold March day an escape from her depression? Got to mention the depression. She suffered from it and my father too.
Of course, nobody in those days went to see a shrink to talk about depression. The thing was not called mental health. You were either crazy or not. Any problems, you talk to the priest. Salvation of the soul was more important than any mental health issues. Right?
I am looking back at my mother on this day. I have looked back at this day as sort of a singular photo. In a way all the millions of images available on TV, the internet, used to only be available in books and or encyclopedias.
In a way I am not framing this moment in a black and white photo thing in a photo album. This image in the wind of the day is my Prada image, touchstone image on which all other images and memories have to go through as a gateway in and out of my own personal archive of memory and imprints on my soul.
Is this what it is all about? Condensing? Compressing? Memory? A life? One life. A soul.
Well, the Prada image that should have been painted by a Goya both in normal tones and lights as well as in the maddening images that only a Goya later in life, and crazy from the lead in his paints, could paint.
Don’t I deserve a Prada or a Louvre to store the treasures of my life? Am I not the king of my destiny? Was the king of…
This reconciliation with mom and her issues that overlapped with my own issues in living never had a simple ending, a typical ending, a final closure.
The family broke up after my father’s death. And I for some reason was not attracted to points west. Though in retrospect, his wife and my siblings had to leave, run away from the reality of my father’s death, his suicide.
I, perhaps instinctively, perhaps with unseen or unheard advice of guardian spirits or ancestors, did not want to follow them out west.
I had been away, out of town, when a man cheated out of his lousy steel worker’s pension of $240 a month, by some corporate raiders, had taken his own life on the last week of his last unemployment check.
And in retrospect, I could have done more but I was young and trying to get away from that damned Philly Quaker self-loathing subculture, a puritanical culture that overlapped with the self-hating Catholic culture of that other immigrant culture layer.
In a way I look at my Prada Image and see a decaying rope mill built before the Civil War. In a way I can see a bright shiny thing of enterprise. I can see a great grandfather, right off the boat, running away from the Potato Famine and drafted to go fight in Lincoln’s corporate war fighting for the northern mill owners, northern bankers, and northern railroads.
If I look at the death of an inner city like Philly I see the death of the old highways, the railroads, obsolete, gone. I see the factories, and the factory workers culture die with the factories attached to these obsolete railroad highways, railroads accommodating factory workers and factory workers’ housing and economy dying, off in favor of the white burbs, plastic city on a hill destination, invented after WWII.
I can see a handful of generations in my bloodline each having to accommodate and bend with massive economic changes. My own flight to New York City made me a migrant, an emigrant from this dying city.
I had since reconciled myself to the many economic factors that contributed to my father’s death. Economic statistics are sometimes easier than the personal statistics attached to a death, any death, in a family.
The personal secrets that my mother and father harbored beneath the mean, hard factory workers life were always there, always just beneath the surface but always only for those who did not fear to tread, seek, find, understand, reconcile.
At this point, and my appearance in Limbo, I sense that I had finished with dad and his inputs to my life. I had time and years and shrinks to help me reconcile my life regarding dad. I had not put my faith in the power of priests to comfort or smooth over the pain of day to day living with a few pithy sayings and prayers. That damned fear of God thing.
I knew instinctively early on in life that I was surrounded by some weird bubble of secrets in the family, the culture of the neighborhood, in the national psyche, the global soul.